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Posts Tagged ‘Melrose Family History’

I apologize for posting two posts in one day, but I looked at the calendar and realized that if I timed this right, the most important letter of all of these could be posted on Veterans’ Day 2015. I did not intend for this to go into Veterans’ Day at all, but now that I amm sitting here and looking aty a calendar, a lot of thoughts are going through my mind, the foremost of which is: why not post the end on Veterans’ Day because Great Uncle Dale deserves that honor!!?

Therefore, I am in a bit of a crunch to post the last few letters written in my great uncle’s hand. There are more letters after that – the story is not yet over! – but Dale’s own words should end on the appropriate “day of remembrance”.

Newberg, Ore. June 18, ’17

Dear Mother and Dad,

       Your letter came today. I will answer thanking you for the draft. I may not need it very badly but it is good of you to send it.

     I dropped down here a day or two ago to put in the time until I am called which I expect about the 20th. The “Doc” our captain, told us all to beat it and do our visiting before the 20th so most of the boys did.

    This is a good bunch we arw in. We dont have to go on the line at all, and still we can see how things are done. Don’t worry about German atrocities. There is no such thing. The word is used for a recruiting device. I have seen the same thing in the German papers about he English and French atrocities.

      Then the subs cant get us because a convoy of battleships always goes with the transports.

     It is hard to make you quit worrying by saying “Dont worry” I know, but you are braver than I expected. That’s the old fight! When I come back I’ll have some great old yarns to spin.

     I have left my stuff with Mrs. Harvey in Eugene, but if you want it I will send it home, although she said she would send it if you people wanted it. There is not much of anything valuable in it. I’ll send my suit-case home from Allentown when I get through with my clothes. I am going t try to take a jersey and some woolen socks along in addition to the army allowance.

     I saw Ray Andrews for the first time in about 4 years. He is going into the Navy with Earl who has left Canada and is in Colfax, Wash. on his way home.

    They wont get out of draft! Dont let them tell you that. The ones enlisting voluntarily make no difference in the size of the National army. And besides that, they are talking of filling up the regular army by draft as wall as the National. I know about that than most of these nuts, for I have information from the inside through Prixy Campbell of the U. who has talked to the big bosses of the thing at Washington.

    There was a kid here, who went to high school with me who has registered all the ways he could to get out of draft. he said he was a Quaker, which he isn’t. Married and that his wife is his wholly dependent upon him. It will go hard on him if he is caught at it.

     I thank you again for the draft.

     Oh – Doctor Rankin sends his regards to you folks and says to tell Dad that he still has his electric treatment. — He is going to France too.

I’ll quit now.

So long

Dale

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006Eugene, June 8, 1917

Dear Mother and Dad,

        As you have learned by the telegram I sent yesterday, I am into it. It came somewhat suddenly but I do not regret it except on account of the way you folks look at it. I was sure of the draft though and you will have to admit that this is better than the trenches.

       You know, in the registration about 600 registered in Eugene and over 400 claimed exemption. That would fix us who claimed none, because those who want exemption very badly will find some way to get it. I was disgusted when I found out how things would go.

    The Ambulance Corps was filling up fast so I thought I would look out for Number One and get in to it. I know nearly all of the boys in it. They are U. students and are a much better bunch than I will would find in the Conscript Army. There is very little danger in the Ambulance work, as I said before. Only 5 out of 450 Americans havebeen killed since the war began. There is a better chance to see things than in the Trenches and a fellow will learn more. We get $36.00 per month, and, of course, food and clothing. We are enlisted under the U.S. Army but are really a part of the Red Cross.

    I talked with president Campbell and he said that my job would be waiting for me when I come back and everything possible would be done to help me when the war is over. They will hire someone temporarily to take my place, and will discharge him or her when I return. That is very good of them, I think.

    I am to be sworn in Tomorrow morning and then we are free till we are called to active service which we expect to be about two ir three weeks from to-morrow. I want to get out and make some money before we are called because it all will come in handy.

     I would like to spend a few days in Newberg before we leave too, so I must get busy at all my stuff or I wont get it all done.

     Above all things I don’t want you folks to worry about me. I will write every week as usual and the letters will get out someway. Of course after we get to France the mail service may be irregular, but it will work after a fashion I know. I think I told you before that the Corps goes to Allentown, Pa. to train. I think we stay there about a month.

     I would like very much to come home, but you folks know that all of us would seel worse if I did. A good-bye of any kind is hard on a person, and the way things are I can keep on writing just like I have been, and it will be much better all around. Don’t you think so?

     The one thing I like about this Ambulance work is the fact that I am to help save life instead of destroying it. The French are said to almost worship the Americans, and always want the American Ambulances to take care of them. A man was here a while ago who had been on the front and he said that a person would be surprised at the way the French treat the Americans.

     When I get to France I am going to study the language for all I am worth, and to take care of the German prisoners. Knowing their language, I can do much better than those who cannot talk to them.

     Of course, if the Asthma should get me I would be no good and would have to be sent home again. If it does, all right, but I told the examining board about it and they put me through a close examination and said that there was nothing wrong with me that would keep me out of the Army. I expected that anyway, and so I was not much surprised.

     This step of mine makes me feel much more at ease. Before I did it I was all knocked out. The draft axe was swinging over my head and I couldn’t get down to business at all. All the boys were going, and you can imagine how I felt, and was made to feel. the only thing about it is the fear that you folks will worry.

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Courage, compassion for the enemy. According to the Registration Card, he was #9 to register that day. My great-grandparents must have been heart-sick, but Dale was so sure of his decision.

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One of the frustrations of detailing my great uncle’s life has to do with the chronology of the letters. Once again, I have discovered two letters inside one envelope! The first dates back to February 17th of 1917; the second  matches the postmark on the envelope: May 16, ’17. I’ll post both of them here as they show quite a difference in worries: in February, Dale was more concerned with finances and food; by May, he’s getting very worried about the draft and impending service.

Eugene, Ore. Feb. 17 ’17

Dear Mother and Dad,

      Your letter came just this afternoon. I will start this one back tonight so that you may get it before the end of next week.

     I took out a life insurance policy with the Metropolitan. Maybe I have told you. The policy is a 20 pay life with a disability provision that pays the amount of benefit on total disability. The premium is $21.85 a year. Takes $419 or so to mature the policy which is $1000. The doctor who examined me said that I would probably live to be 90 or 100 years old judging from my present condition. That will be fine for the company. I left the beneficiary at “Estate” for the present; I have the right to change at any time.

     I got me a pair of corduroy pants the other day. Being a Junior I can cut down the price of clothes somewhat by wearing them on the campus. A pair of shoes costs money now-a-days. Last year I paid $3.50 for shoes all the time but this year they are $5.00. Spuds have gone up again; the buyers are paying 3 cents per pound now.

     We have two lights in the three rooms. they cost us $.75 per month or $.37 1/2 each. I paid $11.50 for registration which is a little more than half of what I would have had to pay if I had begun at the first.

    I got a job from Reddie. He hired me to take care of the stage, keep it in order, etc.

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Dale’s letter of May 16, refers to taking a “military drill” on campus. IThis was an early form of what we now know as “ROTC” (Reserve Officer Training Corps).  Ironically, my brother found a photo of Dale that someone had scanned from an earlier Oregana Annual: Dale is in uniform!

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Eugene, Ore. May 16, ’17

Dear Mother and Dad,

     I am pretty busy now a days, exams are due in a few weeks and I must give exams and take exams. I must do a lot of work in my honor work and quit everything unnecessary.

    I don’t think I should look tired and worn. I get plenty to eat here and have to struggle with laziness this spring weather.

    I don’t see why Dan Brill wants to be a slacker. He can’t get away from the army now, and if he would take military drill he would have a chance to get ahead of the rank of private.

    I was promoted tonight. I am the so-called “high” private. I am next to the corporal, serving in his place when he is absent and promoted before anyone else is. I am getting a fairly good stand in with the officers because I have paid attention to orders and carried them out. Too many of the guys don’t care a snap what happens. If I am still here next year, I think I will get a commission.

     The professor is not returning the poems turned in, because he is getting a bunch ready to send to a publisher. If I ever get any returned I’ll send you some.

    I got the books all right. The paper was torn away by postal authorities to see that there was no infernal machine in the package. It is a wonder that they didn’t confiscate the books because they were German.

    I hate being away from home so much too. I was thinking of trying it back there again after next year. I can get a teaching fellowship at Wisconsin if i take post graduate work in German. They pay about $500 per year. That is a good income for a grad. student. I could be home summers if i do that. The war will knock all that out, I guess. If the war keeps up, (as I am sure it will) I will not be in school much longer. Instead of taking a Master’s degree I will be chasing fleas and Germans somewhere in France. Dont worry about me flying off the handle and enlisting. I will not do that until I have some good reason for doing it. I’ll tell you all about it before I spring anything.

    This is Wednesday morning. I must close this up and get it away.

Your son

Dale D.

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The Draft is looming. The war in Europe has intensified as Germany resumed unrestricted warfare on the open seas (Germany refrained from such an all-out attack after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915). Further, Russia is in the throes of the Bolshevik Revolution and is about to pull out of the war on the Eastern Front. Dale alludes to the possibility of “taking a longer trip” in his letter of early May:

Eugene, Ore. May 4, ’17

Dear Mother and Dad,

     This is great weather now. At last everything is getting a good start. Things have been growing ever since January but now it begins to be really noticeable.

     I got a letter from Andy a day or two ago. He sent me the money that he owed me, and a few dollars more to pay for my trouble in waiting. He is a pretty good kid if he is a darned fool.

    About that conference: I would rather stay here and work than go on that trip even if it would be good. I can use $25.00 to pay up my board during summer school, because my job will not extend that far. then, I may go on a longer trip than that if things don’t straighten up pretty soon. I thought for a while that this wouldn’t amount to much, but I am becoming more convinced every day that something pretty bad is going to come out of this business.

     The submarines are raising the devil with everything. The Germans are sinking more than they said they would. They figured on 600,000 tons per month, but in last week alone they sand 400,000 tons. I think the war will last for two years more at least. If I am not drafted before August, perhaps I had better get in. I am not as much use to the nation as a farmer, mechanic or an electrician and I can be spared better than many that are going now.

Sat: I see there is trouble in Russia. The people want to conclude a separate peace. If they do, we are done for. Germany would have just what she needs, if Russia quits. She could take a few million soldiers and throw them at the west front, and get all the supplies she needs from Russia. Germany could never be be beaten if that happens. Even is this revolution fails, Russia will be in a condition like Mexico and not able to do any more good.

     Things look bad anyway. I hope the atmosphere clears up soon, because I don’t want to fight.

      Your son

          Dale D.

P.S. Your letter came just now and so I will write a little more.

   I couldn’t get out of the draft by marriage if I wanted to, because every man that has married since war was declared is subject to draft just like the rest of us. They are in worse shape than ever now.

    Mildred got a job here in the library. She has been working there ever since she came to college and will have a full time job beginning to first of July. That is good for her. She knows everything here about the work and is well acquainted with people.

    I fear a physical exam couldn’t find any trace of asthma in me now. The Life Insurance M.D. couldn’t find it, and anything I could say would sound like a “slacker’s” talk.

~~~I want to interject here that Mildred is not Dale’s love interest. I’m not sure what her relationship is to the Melrose family, but Great Grandmother must have inquired after her. Dale did have a love interest although he has not mentioned her in his letters to date. Her name was Norma Harvey and she wrote Dale’s mother a beautiful missive in September of 1944. Norma never married.

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Eugene, April 28, ’17

Dear Mother and Dad,

      Your letter hasn’t shown up yet this week, but I am expecting it tomorrow.

      I moved into the dorm last Tuesday. It is great here. I can get much more done now, get better stuff to eat, don’t feel so lonesome, and get along better. Since I have come here, I would never advise anyone to try to go to school and batch, unless he wanted to pinch himself on the eating, because if you eat all you want and have a fairly decent place to live you make nothing at it, if your time is worth anything at all. I don’t see how the management here can put up the meals th it does for $3.75 per week and furnish a room with steam heat, sheets and towels, lights, rugs etc. for seventy-five cents per week. I don’t see why I didn’t come here before. I have missed a lot.

     We put on our play last night. Some people said that I was the best on the stage. At least, the Roland Players, a professional company, said that they might be able to use me in a play a couple of weeks from now. That will be good, for I can make some money out of that.

     I must collect as much of my verse as I can and turn it in to the professor, as he is going to send some of the best poems to some publishing house. It is a bad time now for anything of the kind to succeed, but we might possibly be able to get it accepted. If we do, that will mean a steady little income to each one. Not much, of course, but probably a few dollars every year. I don’t think the thing will go through, at all.

     “The Masses” sent my peom back to me, with a personal note from the editor besides the regular form, saying that he was very sorry that he couldn’t use the poem, which was good enough, he said, for the magazine. That helps some. Bob Case has been sending stuff away for years and got his first personal letter a week or so ago, while I got a personal letter on my first manuscript.

    I saw in the paper that the drafting bill has passed both houses. We fellows who are lucky enough to be between the ages of 19 and 23 will begin to be weeded out now. I think we who are not engineers, mechanics, etc, are to be the first goats, because we are not as valuable to the nation as the others are. Well, they cant make me mad. If I am drafted, I’ll make a fine soldier. There is no use to flop after you are on the bank in the basket. Of course no one can tell how long the war will last. I wouldn’t be surprised if it lasted a long time, though. Russia may conclude a separate peace with Germany, and if she does, a good many of us will have the chance to bleach our  bones somewhere in Europe. Russia has just what Germany needs, men and supplies. Germany has the organization and the driving power to do anything. All she needs is food and men. The U.S. will see harder times than ever when not only the munition factories draw the labor that used to be used making shoes and food, but the army and navy take more of the workers away. If the war keeps up at this rate for five years more, the world will be starving to death, because no one will be left to work making food and clothing. The world’s energies will be used for destruction instead of production.

     I hope you folks are having good weather for spring’s work. We certainly have fine weather here when it isn’t raining. It is raining today, but the past week has been fine You ought to see this campus It is great in the spring and in the fall.

     I am sending a picture of my mug. I had to have it taken for a couple of places in the Oregana, (the Annual) and so I had a half dozen made. I don’t think the picture is well finished, but I guess it comes as near resembling me as anything could.

    This is about all I have to say this time.

Your son

Dale D.

*whew* Dale was certainly feeling long-winded when he wrote this six page note! He covered everything from the struggles of a young actor and poet to the Great War, and turned it around with a snippet about the weather. I can’t find anywhere that his poetry was ever published, and except for the same I shared in my last post, nothing was saved by the family.

His rant about the war is especially poignant because he would be drafted. Economic collapse of the kind he predicted would come right between the two wars, in 1928, but for very different reasons. WWII would see a shift from men in manufacturing jobs to women as Rosie the Riveter was hired to replace the men who marched off to war and left those jobs unfilled.

I have no photos of Dale. I suppose they must exist, perhaps in a family album in my brother’s care (as we hauled everything from the estate as far as Reno in 2011). I certainly haven’t one in my possession that I know of. I did a search for the 1917 Oregana and found it has been preserved and is available in .pdf format for anyone to access. I scrolled through to page 175 where I found a tiny photo in the right hand column: Dale Melrose.-This man, with a name like a rose, takes lots of courses in the Lit department. We’re glad there is at least one man there for Prof. Howe to appeal to for the gentlemen’s ideas on the r~form stuff.

Dale is also mentioned on page 128 as the Officer in A Comedy of Errors.

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Eugene, Ore March 31, ’17

Dear Mother and Dad,

     I will try to get your letter off before the middle of next week this time. I have been right busy for the past week. I had to work a good deal in the theater and besides that I had several exams, or rather tests.

     The Easter vacation begins next Friday. I am not so joyous over it as I might be. I will have more work to do then than in regular school time. I haven’t been able to put any time on my translation for some time. I had hoped to put some work on it in vacation but I dont lnow how I can find time for it. The good thing about this busy-ness is the enjoyment I get out of the work itself, and the more work; the more enjoyment in this kind of work.

      I’ll send you some poems in my next letter. I haven’t any type written now and they take up so much room if written in long x hand, that the weigh the letter down too much. The editor of the Oregon Magasine got me to give him some stuff. I suppose he will use it.

001002End. Lost letter. Dang. I hate that. I tried to research the Oregon Magazine and my great uncle’s poetry, but got no hits. No poems in the letters my great grandmother collected, either. I dug through boxes until I found her scrap book and I searched it for a poem.

I finally sound one written in a different long-hand, and unsigned by whomever was thoughtful enough to send it to her:

This poem was written by Dale in July at the U. of O. He read it to Doctor Sparth (Head of the English dept at Princeton NJ) who was at Oer and who considered them exceedingly good. He advised Dale to publish them. Dale sent them to one magazine and they were returned. He intended to try again with them but I do not know whether or not he did or what success he had.

   He gave me a copy of them and I am sending you a copy in case you haven’t any.

A Sonnet of Hope

Across from plains that scorch beneath the sun,

Seamed with old trench lines where red blood ran,

When men have madly fought, and lost, and won,

There stalks a demon in the armie’s van.

The hordes come from the corners of the world

And as the demon leads, each pigmy man

Hopes a vain hope until his life is hurled

Into Eternity when it began

And darling, I, a dwarf and pigmy too,

Turn with the crowd and act with its wild plan.

Hope my vain hope as all the pigmies do,

And serve the demon as best I can:

But when my thread is cut, my dying breath

Will voice my love for you, in death,—in death

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Whew! I smell like dust! I just dug through a box of memorabilia, looking for items to match up with the letters from Dale (specifically, my great-grandmother’s scrap book). I found some gems, too, but not anything to match with the letter I am sharing tonight. This one is from Dale to his younger brother, the man who would become the father of my mother.

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This is the first time addresses are actually being used on the correspondence, although the zip code system has yet to be invented and implemented. John Phillip Vaughn Melrose was my grandfather’s full name.

Eugene, Ore., March, 27, 1917

Dear Brother,

        Ma told me what your address is, and so I thought I would write a line of two and find out what you are doing, how you like the school, the boys and all about it. I suppose you must be pretty well acquainted with things by this time and so you can tell all about it.

      Do you go out for baseball or track, or do they have both of them? Probably you don’t have time for either one, if you go home nearly every Friday. If you have time you want to take a whirl at something like that though.

      I am busy as a cat on a tin roof with all of my jobs and extra study work. The cooking takes quite a lot of time too, but I have quit eating dinner and that gives me a lot of time I didn’t have before. It’s all right, but I surely am hungry for supper time.

     I see the Newberg paper at the library once in a while, and see the names of the kids in it once in a while. The high school basket-ball team won the championship of the state this year. Don Crow, Oswald Best, and that bunch are on it. I had a letter yesterday from the Annual staff wanting me to send them four bits for an Annual but I didn’t have the four bits, and so I guess they have wasted a stamp on me.

     Well, I can’t think of much more to say except to buck in and do good work. Dont mind Dad’s cussing too much. He doesn’t mean half of what he says anyway. After I get out and get some money coming toward me, I will back you in school as far as you want to go. You will be a junior in high school by that time and will be going fine. I wont have anything do with my money but pay off debts and help you along in school.

     You write a good long letter and tell me all about your studies, school, athletics and everything. I will write more next time, but must go to a class now.

Your brother

Dale D. Melrose

1334 Agate St.

Eugene, Ore.

002003Postscript – 1334 Agate Street is now part of the University Health Center on the UO campus.

It is a very good possibility that 321 Chippewa St. in Eau Claire is still standing. I googled it and the houses look like they were built circa 1900.

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(Dale’s constant omission of the apostrophe in the contraction “dont” nearly pushes me over the edge!)

The envelope for this letter has a pale inscription in pencil written across the front of it: Dale and Case keep House. It is about much more than that and reflects the innocence of America before Doughboys were shipped off to fight in trenches and Mustard gas.

Eugene, Ore. Feb. 12, ’17

Dear Mother and Dad,

      Your two letters came today and in one was the draft ofor $100. I am very thankful, and it has not put me to any trouble at all. My only reason for telegraphing was to find out if I could make a raise, and if not I would not waste my money in registering.

     My subjects are: Educational Psychology, Technique of Poetry, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Philosophical Foundations of English Literature, Advanced German Literature, and and Dramatics. Besides these I will have a lecture course entirely in German on the German Culture and Civilization. In addition to this I am doing extra work in the English department and having a special conference hour with the head of the department. Today our first poems were due in the Technique class. The professor said that mine was very good and would be very good for publication in the college publications. He asked me to try for a prize that is offered by the Spectator, a paper published in Portland. I may try for it because $15 or $5 for a poem will come handy.

     Dont worry about the war. I think we are just as far from it as we were when it began. Even the Germans wanted to break diplomatic relations with the U.S. because of the trouble caused by the continental squabbles. If the U.S. did go in there would be no change excepting, perhaps, a new excuse for raising the price of provisions.

      The housekeeping is going fine. One week Case does the cooking and the next week, I do it. Ditto with the dishwashing only reversed. I would rather do the cooking all the time because I can do it better, and then Case is not very neat. If I ever get any one else in here, I will get some-one that I can boss. Case is too smart.

     I had no letter from Aunt Jane at all.

     I sent that telegram about 8:30 P.M. on Saturday.

     That must be disagreeable weather. The pussy willows have been out for over a week here! I guess our winter is over, except probably a late spring storm. I have told it all, I guess I will take this down and mail it now.

Your Son,

Dale.

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My Great Grandmother saved more of Dale’s 1917 letters than in previous years – there are 19 letters that follow this one. There’s a war raging in Europe, but the United States will not enter that until April. Dale is struggling to put himself through college (and he will pull it off for one more semester). The Draft will catch up with him in July. Finally, Scarlet Fever will do her work. I know these things, but Dale did not. He wrote his letters, absorbed only with the now of living, and his current woes.

Eugene, Ore. Dec. 31, ’16

Dear Folks,

       Well, how are things now? I am still humming along as usual. Everybody else is getting La Grippe, but I cant get it. Too tough, I guess.

      See my Xmas present. I got a big box of stationery and some candy too. That will help some.

      I heard that Andy is back in the U.S. again, but I haven’t heard from him yet. I suppose Brown is back too. I expect to see them down this way before long. Andy always talked of coming down to see Brown’s place.

      I had a letter from Mr. Kopp the other day saying, that while he would be glad to lend money on life insurance, he had lent all he could spare, just two weeks before to his brother in the east who was buying a place. That prevents me from getting money there. I don’t know any one in this town who has any loose money to lend. Maybe I can get it from a bank, but they seldom loan except on real estate for purposes of development of the country.

     I dont know what to do but I am going to see the president of the University as soon as he is here and find out about things. I may be able to make it stick, but if I don’t, I will have to give up the idea of school this year.

      Kopp said in his letter that if I couldn’t get a loan I had better work a year or two than to go to school hampered by lack of funds. That was my idea anyway.

      I would hit Aunt Jane for a loan but if she is going to build a barn next spring, she will have no money to spare.

      There is no logging at all now on account of deep snow in the mountains. We have had no snow to speak of but it can be seen on all the hills around here.

      Your letter hasn’t come yet. I guess the snow in the Rockies must be holding up the mail. I heard that the trains were 36 hours late.

      There is nothing more to write so I will close

Your son

Dale D.

postmarked Jan 1-17 5PM

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005Eugene, Ore. Dec. 24, ’16

Dear Folks,

      Well, it is Christmas Eve again. I must be getting old, because it doesn’t seem any different than the other nights. It is not so long since I used to count the days before it for weeks, either.

    My Job in the grill has gone glimmering, I guess. I have not been told of any chance anyway. The proprietor said that he would let me know when he wanted me.

    I am working for my room at the same place I was last year, but that is all. The two fellows that were talking about wood cutting are celebrating Xmas and I cannot take the job alone.

006       I went to the U. the other day and enrolled in some correspondence study to keep me busy and make up some lost work. I can make 3 hours of credit before the second semester begins.

      A felloew I knew last year wants me to batch it with him for the second semester. He lives in Portland and will furnish most of the junk besides what goes with the 3 room house we arranged for. The lady here has a cookstove she said we could have and Bob is going to ship a heater from Portland when he comes back after New Year. Beds and tables, are chairs, rug etc are furnished with the house for which we pay $6.00 per month. It would be just right for two. A room to sleep in, to study in, and to cook and eat in.

     You didn’t say where John was going to school. He must be getting to be a pretty heavy kid by this time. Tell him to get weighed and send me a letter and tell me about what he is doing.

007    It must have been lots of fun for Dad to have eight teeth pulled at one sitting. I dont envy him the fun at all though.

    Your letter didn’t come last week so I will leave this till tomorrow to see if it wont come.

___

Nothing came, so I will mail this anyways.

Dale Melrose 158 W. 12th Ct

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